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School mulls staff cuts

SCHROON LAKE - Painful budget decisions have teachers and parents on edge in the Schroon Lake Central School District.

With student enrollment trending downward-leaving some lower elementary classrooms with as little as seven pupils-the relatively new school board is faced with the challenge of phasing in reductions in the number of classes per grade.

Whether any classrooms will be consolidated this year remains an open question, but declining tax revenue and state aid, along with looming costs for ongoing school renovations, have put pressure on its administrators to cut costs.

The school board identified about 45 possible cuts in expenditures in a document obtained by the Teachers Association through a Freedom of Information Law request. Several items were given priority over others, such as elimination of teaching positions, reductions in teacher supplies and field trips.

During a board of education meeting on March 25, Teachers Association President Mary Gereau asked school board members if they had decided whether to cut any teachers.

School Board President John Armstrong responded that no final decisions had been made.

"The budget is being decided in one month," Gereau said. "It's awfully late to be making such drastic decisions and it concerns me that you don't know the answer to that yet."

One parent at the meeting asked that staff decisions be made in public.

"It seems like there's a cloak of secrecy behind this process," said Chris Savarie, adding that he's concerned about the school's fiscal outlook. "I think we're headed for a train wreck; if not this year, than next year."

Gereau pointed out that the incoming class of kindergartners this year will be at least 18 students per class, up from previous years. She said this improving trend might continue, and that it would be unwise to reduce teaching staff at this time.

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